ACQUITTED MDC member Last Maengahama said it was his Christinanity and political beliefs, support from relatives, party members, and his conviction for a democratic Zimbabwe that kept him strong while incarcerated for eight years in prison.
Maengahama and fellow MDC activist, Tungamirai Madzokere were last week acquitted after spending eight years of their 20-year jail term locked up at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
They were charged with murdering police officer Petros Mutedza in Glen View, Harare in 2011.
At the time of his arrest, Maengahama was a national executive member of the MDC while Madzokere was a Harare City councillor.
However, speaking to NewZimbabwe.com soon after his release from prison Friday, Maengahama said, he and Madzokere did not commit any crime, adding he has never even killed a chicken in his whole life.
He said on the day Mutedza died, he was actually attending a church service, and even a video was played in court as an alibi, but the trial judge Chinembiri Bhunu dismissed the evidence.
“We committed no crime. I never killed even a chicken in my life and my conscience was very clear from day one, it was just persecution because of my (political) beliefs,” said Maengahama.
“On the day the police officer was killed, I was at church worshipping and of all the people, they decided to pick me and accuse me of committing murder and they even convicted me.
“When (Justice) Bhunu was passing sentence, he talked as if he was doing us a favour by not sentencing us to death. But we were innocent from day one. The evidence was there, but (Justice) Bhunu disregarded that evidence.”
Maengahama said life in prison was very difficult, but they managed to survive through the Grace of the Lord.
“It was a very difficult situation, but nevertheless we managed through the Grace of the Lord which is upon us, we faced so many challenges but we conquered. It’s very difficult to be a political prisoner, we were treated differently from other inmates. They (prison officials) see you as if you are more dangerous than all other hardcore criminals. But we thank God that today we are here.”
Maengahama added he believed God wanted him to go through imprisonment for a reason.
“I am in the struggle not because it’s my choice, but God wanted me to go through this path. So, politics to me is a calling. I have to do something about this country. The people are suffering and there has to be men and women who are prepared to go through this to fight for our liberation and I believe I am one of them.
“When I heard the call today (for my release), I was excited. I almost cried.”
Last Friday, Supreme Court Justices of Appeal, Rita Makarau, Susan Mavangira, and Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza set aside the two’s conviction and acquitted them.